Aung San Suu Kyi was sentenced to seven more years in prison on Friday after being found guilty of five counts of corruption by an army-run court in Myanmar. This verdict brought an end to a protracted legal process that had been denounced internationally as a charade.
Ms Suu Kyi, who was detained following a coup in February 2021, was found guilty of crimes including leasing and using a helicopter while she was Myanmar's de facto leader. The well-known, Oxford-educated Ms Suu Kyi, who won the Nobel Peace Prize for her decades-long fight for democracy in Myanmar, has spent a large portion of her political life in detention under military rulers.
The verdict on Friday increases the minimum 26-year sentences that have been given out since December of last year. Ms Suu Kyi was in good health.
After the military ended its 49-year rule in 2015, Ms Suu Kyi oversaw Myanmar for five years during a nascent democracy. However, the military seized control early last year to prevent her government from beginning a second term because it had ignored irregularities in an election that her party had won.
Western nations have disregarded the proceedings as a charade intended to contain the junta's greatest threat in the face of intense domestic opposition to its authority. The junta must cease hostilities and release all political prisoners, including Ms Suu Kyi, according to a resolution passed last week by the UN Security Council.
Given Ms Suu Kyi's age, Human Rights Watch argued that the court had essentially handed down a life sentence, and called for a greater international response and more potent sanctions to damage the junta.
Ms Aung San Suu Kyi has been restricted to speaking only with her attorneys since her detention in 2021. During the trials, they are not permitted to speak with the media. She spent over 15 years under house imprisonment during the previous military dictatorship, and earlier this year, the Supreme Court of the nation, which is supported by the military, declared that it would put her house up for auction.
Any elections staged by the current regime would be a "sham," according to the United States.
Russia, a major ally and arms supplier, has declared its support for the military's plan to conduct elections in 2019. According to analysts and diplomatic sources, China, India, and Thailand, which are neighbours, may also offer their approval. However, many of Myanmar's numerous political parties may choose to abstain from the elections rather than the contest on the junta's terms and run the possibility of anti-coup activists' reprisal.
Image Credits: Al Jazeera
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